Monday, October 4, 2010

Draft Thesis Statement

Architecture embodies the ideal of the republican polity by civilizing the activity of commerce in the service of politics. The trading settlement may be a market but it is not of necessity a city. Only with the establishment of laws under the aegis of political wisdom can the settlement be organized to harness the prosperity of commerce. In so doing the city provides a place not only for the pursuit of sustenance, but of excellence. European (and by extension) American market halls are formally linked to the stoa, forum, basilica, loggia, exchange, and bourse, in that they provide a covered place to transact business within an ordered framework. Polities organize such spaces in order to assure a just commerce. In return the market takes care of the material needs of the city, and in the best cases, promotes the city’s prosperity. Without prosperity the city cannot achieve its end. Insofar as nature is composed of stable, unchanging classes of things, including those of human activity, architecture is capable of clarifying the structure of the city. Through the judicious use of the orders, the depiction of famous narratives of the city, and its overall suitability, architecture can provide a comprehensible framework conducive to the pursuit of the good life. Architecture thus functions rhetorically by embodying and explaining the order of the city by its imitation of nature. In the Western city, with economic freedom closely connected with urban life, the market and the polity are architecturally linked. The market hall is the heart or center of the city. It is in the building provided to house the public market that architecture in republican polities most significantly holds up the ideal of the good life lived in community and embodies the struggle between what is and what ought to be.